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GW Roommates Recognized and Reunited in Their Calls to Service

Steve Vogel | The Washington Post via YellowBrix

September 22, 2009

Not long after Kristen Taddonio and Clare Rowley moved into their George Washington University dorm in 2001, the freshman roommates bonded while watching the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, on a Lafayette Hall television.

They went their separate ways after graduation and lost track of each other, but both ended up pursuing careers with the federal government.

Eight years later, the former roommates are both finalists for the Call to Service Medal, which is being presented Wednesday evening at the 2009 Service to America award ceremony by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. The awards, nicknamed the “Sammies” by organizers, recognize excellence in federal civil service.

At a Capitol Hill luncheon in May where the five finalists were named, Rowley heard Taddonio’s name called shortly after her own. “It really blew my mind,” Rowley said Monday. “I was totally amazed.”

Rowley, an economic analyst for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., helped develop mortgage-modification plans that the FDIC credits with allowing thousands of people stay in their homes.

Taddonio works for the Environmental Protection Agency as co-director of Strategic Climate Projects, an industry-government alliance aimed at accelerating the adoption of greener technologies.

The two reflect a post-9/11 generation of federal workers who entered civil service motivated by the ideals of public service, said Max Stier, president and chief executive of the partnership.

“We’re seeing more stories about younger people doing remarkable things,” Stier said. “You’ve got a lot of new talent coming into government, young people like Clare and Kristen making a difference early in their careers.”

After graduating from GW in 2005 with a degree in economics, Rowley went to work at the FDIC as an economic assistant and helped manage a national database of subprime mortgages, at a time when it was not a big issue.

When IndyMac Bank, based in Pasadena, Calif., failed in July 2008 and came under FDIC control, Rowley was sent with colleagues to implement a system to modify loans to help struggling mortgage holders stay in their homes.

The Obama administration launched a $75 billion mortgage-modification program earlier this year, and the IndyMac episode helped shape those details. “People were very interested in the experiences at IndyMac,” she said.

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